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Shakhi Zinda Necropolis in Samarkand

Shakhi Zinda Necropolis, Samarkand

Shakhi Zinda is a necropolis in the north-eastern part of Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Probably, there is no place in the glorious and old city of Samarkand that would more fully reflect the many milestones of its turbulent and long history as the Shakhi Zinda memorial complex. Locals call this necropolis a "cemetery street", but, of course, these majestic and monumental structures have nothing to do with the living dead who stagger here, hunting mortals.

In the local mausoleums created by the best architects of their time, Muslim saints, relatives of the famous ruler Timur, religious figures, thinkers and philosophers rest. Here is concentrated such a huge number of buildings remarkable for their historical, aesthetic and cultural value, that in order to inspect all these tombs and tombs, a whole sultry day may not be enough. No wonder this complex is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Ancient times Shakhi Zinda was the largest religious and cultural center of Central Asia. Perhaps the best description of the importance of this complex in the picture of the Muslim world at that time is the fact that the hajj (i.e. pilgrimage) to Mecca could be replaced by a visit to Shakhi Zinda. The story itself is also unusual, according to which wonderful architectural works appeared here. This story is connected, but rather even a legend with the name of the cousin of the prophet Muhammad - Kussam ibn Abass. In 676, Kussam visited the city of Samarkand with the aim of preaching Islam in these places. During the prayer, which was done by the preacher and his new flock, the pagans from Panjakent attacked the worshipers. Actually, after the moment of the attack, various versions of the development of events begin.

So, according to one of them, the brother of the prophet was killed by an arrow fired by one of the attackers. On the other, Kussam disappeared into the gap, which suddenly appeared on a minbar chopped beneath it. The third version claims that the preacher managed to hide in the Shaaban well, where Saint Hyzr brought him. Proponents of this legend claim that he is hiding there to this day. The fourth version is less rosy: Kussam was beheaded right at the well, but managed to drink the miraculous "living water" and thanks to this he received immortality.

By the way, the name of the Shakhi Zinda memorial complex can be translated into English roughly as "living king", and the inscription on the tombstone of Kussam ibn Abass says: "Those who are killed on the path of Allah, do not consider them dead: no, they are alive ..."

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Tomb of Kussam ibn Abass

Actually, it is the tomb of Kussam ibn Abass that is the center and foundation of the entire ensemble of Shahi Zind. Attention immediately rivets the door with its beauty and artful design, which leads to the tomb. This door was created by the great carver Yusuf Shirazi in 1404. In those ancient times, one of the main decorations of the entrance was ivory inlay, which to our days, unfortunately, has not been preserved. But the laudatory inscription dedicated to Kussam has been preserved: "The Arab, Hasham, Kuraishinsky, Mecca and Medda prophet said, may peace be upon him: Kussam, the son of Abbas, resembles me more than anyone else in appearance and character."

The room of the mausoleum is divided into several parts: the mosque of Ziyorathon, the tomb itself - gurkhona, the place where the chillahona was fasted and the room where the utensils necessary for worship - tughona were stored. The mosque and the tomb are separated by a characteristic wooden lattice, very elegantly decorated. The tombstone is decorated with intricate patterns and tiles and richly covered in gold. In addition to the tomb of the saint himself, other mausoleums also enter this complex, most of which tightly "encircled" the resting place of the preacher. The fact is that it was believed that the closer a person is buried to the body of the saint, the less committed his sins during his earthly journey.

Tomb of Tamerlane's wife Tuman-aka

Among others, the tomb of Tamerlane’s wife Tuman-aka, the tomb of the religious leader and enlightener Khoja Ahmal, as well as the obscure "girl who met the death of chaste" are especially notable. Well, it goes without saying that the most noticeable and famous of them was the Tuman-aka mausoleum. It immediately differs from its closest neighbors in a rich purple color. True, it should be noted that his interior is not very splendid. The interior can be described with the famous expression "modestly but tastefully." In addition, Tuman-aka is also one of the highest mausoleums of the entire complex.

Tomb of Emir Burunduk

Another remarkable place - alas, the unfinished tomb of one of Timur’s faithful and brave military commanders - Emir Burunduk. As befits an ascetic warrior, Emir rests in a very unpretentious, one might say marching setting. The walls are covered with alabaster paint, and only majolica plates can be distinguished from decorations and refinements.

Mausoleum of Kazi Zade Rumi

The tallest building here is considered the mausoleum of the mentor of the ruler Ulugbek and the great scientist - Kazy-zade Rumi. In gratitude to his mentor and teacher, Ulugbek built the tallest mausoleum for him in the entire complex of Shakhi Zinda.

Other notable tombs of Shakhi Zinda

The tomb of Usto Ali Nsefi, a famous master, is interesting in that it is one of the last mausoleums that was lined with carved ornamental terracotta. Many call the "pearl of Shakh Zinda" the tomb of Timur's niece. The tomb, which was built in 1327, is considered the earliest building erected during the reign of Amir Timur in Samarkand. This tomb is famous for its sophisticated and intricate forms, luxurious and finely executed ornaments. Tamerlane’s sister also found refuge nearby, in the tomb of Shirin-Bek-Aka, which is considered the brightest in this huge memorial complex. The mausoleum is designed in such a way that light penetrates into every corner of the tomb, successfully combining with beautiful panels decorating the interior.

Entrance fee: 2.5 USD

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